PICK OF THE WEEK
Tuesday, Jan. 16, 9-10 p.m. (PBS)
TV highlights for the week of Jan. 12-18. All times are Eastern; check local listings. Ratings are listed for shows when available (see explanation below).
SUNDAY - 1/12
NFC Playoffs (Fox, 12:30-4 p.m.): Why is the NFC championship game between the Green Bay Packers and the Carolina Panthers being played first? Because the weather is colder in Wisconsin than Massachusetts. Great news for NBC, who gets to broadcast in the coveted later time slot for the first time in nine years.
AFC Playoffs (NBC, 4-7 p.m.): The New England Patriots are no doubt wishing they had a bigger stadium to accommodate all the fans who wanted to attend this game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. But those who have to settle for the TV version will benefit from some of NBC's best commentators - and also stay warmer.
The Simpsons (Fox, 8-8:30 p.m.): In this spoofy episode, Homer encounters an alien, and FBI agents Mulder and Scully from "The X-Files" come to investigate. Stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson lend their voices, as does Leonard Nimoy, who acts as host of the program. Clever jabs at popular television abound, with a typical, offbeat "Simpsons" ending. (TV-PG)
King of the Hill (Fox, 8:30-9 p.m.): Mike Judge, whose fetid - if fertile - imagination brought us "Beavis and Butt-head," has gone country. His new cartoon follows the foibles of a blue-collar Texan family named Hill. Obligatory barbecue jokes and satellite-sized belt buckles aside, hopefully this one won't stray too far from the realm of good taste. (TV-PG)
Masterpiece Theatre (PBS, 9-11 p.m.): Brought to you straight from the scandal sheets - er, history books - of Britain: the tale of a feuding Prince and Princess of Wales. No, not Charles and Diana - this 18th-century matchup pits George IV (Richard E. Grant) against Caroline of Brunswick (Susan Lynch). In fact, as "A Royal Scandal" reveals, the royals of yesteryear make today's feuding family relations look downright amicable. Narrated by Ian Richardson.
TUESDAY - 1/14
Frontline (PBS, 9-10 p.m.): This informative installment is called "Betting on the Market," and anyone who has any money in stocks or is thinking about investing should tune in. It's a highly watchable program that not only gives background on how the country went from being stock-shy to mutual-fund-loving, but also tempers the heady gains of the last few years with down-to-earth commentary ("there's no such thing as an elevator that only goes up"). Fortune magazine's Joe Nocera talks with individuals including working-class investors and mutual-fund celebrities Peter Lynch and Garret Van Wagoner.
Country Justice (CBS, 9-11 p.m.): George C. Scott is the only spark of redemption in this story of a coal miner and his granddaughter. The tawdry plot, based on actual events, seeks to combine two staples of the TV-movie genre: a custody battle and the rape of a minor. It also features an insidious, half-hour build-up to the rape that illustrates what is wrong with so many TV movies. Ally Sheedy co-stars. (TV-14)
THURSDAY - 1/16
The Naked Truth (NBC, 9:30-10 p.m.): Ta Leoni's underachieving series about a divorced photojournalist has been revamped and given a cushy, must-see time slot after "Seinfeld." Rather than a supermarket tabloid, Leoni's character now works for a celebrity magazine that is in for some major changes. For example, its new owner (George Wendt, of "Cheers" fame) insists that the magazine print the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Wendt's character - a former butcher - should prove a beefy foil to Leoni's and co-star Holland Taylor's histrionics. (TV-PG)
FRIDAY - 1/17
Talk to Me: Americans in Conversation (PBS, 10-11 p.m.): "No one knows who an American is," says historian Gordon Little. Unfortunately, you won't have a much better sense after watching "Talk to Me," part of PBS's Democracy Project. While interesting, the documentary lacks direction - mixing sound bites of Korean immigrants and Pueblo Indians with footage of Dorothy and Toto skipping down the Yellow Brick Road. The cultural hodgepodge also features beautiful quilts and historical footage spliced with commentary on the sociological import of "Star Trek."
The following categories apply to programs designed for children:
TV-Y All Children: The themes and elements in this program are specifically designed for a very young audience, including children from ages 2 to 6.
TV-Y7 Directed to Older Children: Themes and elements in this program may include mild physical or comedic violence, or may frighten children under the age of 7.
The following categories apply to programs designed for the entire audience:
TV-G General Audience: The program contains little or no violence, no strong language, and little or no sexual dialogue or situations.
TV-PG Parental Guidance Suggested: The program may contain infrequent coarse language, limited violence, and some suggestive sexual dialogue and situations.
TV-14 Parents Strongly Cautioned: This program may contain sophisticated themes, sexual content, strong language, and more intense violence.
TV-M Mature Audience Only: This program may contain mature themes, profane language, graphic violence, and explicit sexual content.
Sports and news programs are not rated.
- Provided by the Motion Picture Association of America